Leofeca may be regarded as Lewknor’s earliest Anglo-Saxon Owner. The 1st Documentary reference to Lewknor occurs in the record of a Lawsuit heard in a Shiremoot in or about 990, wherein ‘Eadgyfu aet Leofecan oran‘, or Edith of Lewknor, appeared as a Witness. According to the traditions of the Monks of Abingdon ‘Luvechenora‘ was subsequently the marriage portion of a certain Ælfgiva. She left the Vill to her kinswoman Edith whom Edward the Confessor married in 1045. After Ælfgiva died, her House-Steward (procurator domus) continued to Administer the Property as if it were his own, but he oppressed the Tenantry, and one of them, Edwin Rainere, laid information with the Queen. The House-steward was unable to disprove in the King’s Court Edwin’s Statement and so was forced to put Queen Edith in possession. Subsequently, King Edward, the Confessor came with his wife to stay at Abingdon & Queen Edith offered to give Lewknor to the Monks as Endowment for their morning meal. The King confirmed the Gift. Although there is doubt about the authenticity of the Confessor’s Grant, which the Abbot of Abingdon produced at the Quo Warranto proceedings of 1285, the Chronicler’s narrative may well be substantially correct.
A Danish Nobleman Tovi, whom the Chronicler also credits with leaving Lewknor to Abingdon, is known to have been a Thegn of King Edward and to have held of him Ibstone Manor. His Grant, made in Ordric’s Abbacy (1052–65), seems to have been in fact limited to Ackhamstead, a Hamlet of Lewknor, to Plumbridge in Ibstone & to Garsington Manor. Of the 20-Hides at which Lewknor (excluding Ackhamstead) was rated Abingdon held 17 in 1086. Its Lewknor Manor was later enlarged by various Grants of Land on the confines of the Township. Drew d’Aundeley, Owner of South Weston and of the adjoining Vill of Shirburn, on becoming a Monk of Abingdon, endowed the Abbey with a hide at ‘Wdemundesleia‘, now Wormsley in Stokenchurch (Bucks), but then described as of the Vill of Weston. His Grant was confirmed by his Feudal Lord Nigel d’Oilly in 1106. In or about the same year D’Oilly granted the Abbey a ½-Hide in Abbefeld of Drew’s Fee. As Abbefeld (later Chequers Manor) lay in Stokenchurch and later came to represent the entire Holding of the De Scaccario Family, it is most likely that Abingdon derived its Title to the Moorland round Cadmore End from this Grant. An Agreement of 1254 mentions other neighbouring Hamlets as a part of the Abbey’s Property, Studdridge lying to the East of Wormsley, and ‘Plumrugge‘, i.e. Plumbridge in Ibstone Parish, a little farther South. Studdridge may also have come to Abingdon from Drew’s Grant. These smaller Properties, save perhaps for Abbefeld, which was said to have been lost to the Danes, had formed no part of Lewknor’s pre-Conquest Townlands, but by the 13thC, they had come to make up the Manor. The Inquest of 1279 includes the following places in Lewknor: Postcombe, Ackhamstead, Abbefeld & Padnells (Padnole) in Rotherfield Greys. Actually, Laurence de Scaccario held one 3rd only of Great Abbefeld from Abingdon, the other 2/3rds being held of the Lord of Aston Rowant.
Lewknor Manor was Leased throughout most of the Middle Ages. Falling to the Crown on the suppression of the Abbey in 1538, Lewknor was Granted in 1541 to a Court favourite, Sir John Williams, who later became Lord Williams of Thame. As the Grant was made in Tail Male and Lord Williams died in 1559 with no male heir the Manor reverted to the Crown but was leased in 1560 to Christopher Edmonds of North Weston and his wife Dorothy, at a yearly rent of £42-2s-1½d. Edmonds was Stepson to the former Grantee, being the son of his 1st wife by a previous marriage; he seems to have acted as Agent for Sir John and was left the Lease of North Weston in Lord Williams’s Will. Edmonds had a place at Court, and his wife Dorothy, a daughter of Christopher Lidcott of Rushcombe, was one of the Ladies of the Queen’s Privy Chamber. Five years later, in 1565, the Lease was converted to a Grant in Fee, subject to an Annual Crown Rent of £23-6s-9d. Edmonds had already Seignorial Rights in Lewknor, having acquired the Manors of Nethercote & Moorcourt in 1545 from the Crown. Thus in 1565 the 3 Lewknor Manors, once belonging to Abingdon & the Honour of Wallingford were united in the hands of Edmonds. Edmonds was Knighted in 1592 and died about 4-yrs later without male issue. His wife Dorothy survived him, and by 1603 had sold the Lordship & Manor to Thomas Rolles, of Devon extraction and Gentleman Usher to Elizabeth I & after to James I.
The Fee-Farm Rent of £23-6s-9d., reserved to the Crown under the Grant of 1565, was augmented to £33-6s-9d. upon the deaths of Christopher & Dorothy Edmonds without male heir. It continued to be paid yearly to the Crown by the Lords of the Manor and to be recovered by them in the form of Quit-rents from their Tenants. After the Restoration it went to form part of the Dower of Queen Henrietta Maria and then the Jointure of her daughter-in-law, Queen Catherine. By 1713 it had passed into Private hands and in 1805 it was bought by Richard Paul Jodrell from the Owner, the Rev Henry Hadley Norris, and was so extinguished.
Manor House Weston Road (West Side) Lewknor, now House. Late 16thC, remodelled and re-Fronted 1866 for Sir Edward Repps Jodrell. Rendered; Gabled old Tile Roof; right end Stack & mid-19thC rear lateral Stacks. L-plan with a rear Right Wing. 2-Storeys & Attic; 4-window Range. Late 18thC 6-panelled Door with Overlight: Brick Porch with Datestone “ERP/1866“. Paired horned sashes.
Rear Wing of 2-Storeys; 2-window Range has 2 & 3-light Stone-mullioned ovolo-moulded windows on left sidewall.
Interior: Hall has reset 17thC Panelling; 1st-Floor has a late 16thC panelled Room with mid-19thC Fireplace & restored Overmantle to right, and central Timber-framed Partition; Attic has old Plank Door and 4-bay Collar-Truss Roof. Rear Wing has chamfered & stopped Beams, 17thC Quarter-turn Staircase with splat Balusters, 2 bolection-moulded Doors, stop-chamfered Doorframe and 4-Bay Queen-post Roof with clasped Purlins. The House is shown on a 1598 Map, and was described in 1684 as having Hall & Parlour, with the best Chamber, Dining Room & Closet over them.
The Manor-House, which the Rolles Family made their Residence during the 17thC and called ‘The Place‘, lay about a ¼-mile from the Village, off the Weston Road. Longdon’s Map of 1598 shows it as a Quadrangle. In 1852 it was still possible to speak of it as an Ancient Building though now a Farmhouse, but the present House has been partly rebuilt. In 1665, however, ‘The Place‘ and a Mansion called the Upper House (which Mr Edward Hewish had lately bought from Thomas Rolles) were the 2-largest Houses in Lewknor, each having 9-Hearths: no other House in the Village had more than 5; most had only 1 or 2. A Lease of 1684 describes the Manor-House with its Hall & Parlour, the best Chamber & Dining-room over them, and the room called the Closet. It was a fair-sized place, with its Court to the South of it, its Trees & Fishponds, its Stables & Gardens (including a Hop-garden), and the adjoining 16-acres of Inclosure known as ‘The Place Closes‘
From Thomas Rolles (d.1606) the Manor passed to a nephew Richard (d.1633). Richard’s son Thomas (1608–89) led a long life of extravagance supported by Sales & Enfranchisements, and left to his son, a 3rd Thomas (1652–1725), and impoverished the Property, reduced by the Sale of a Farm with 178-acres in the Common Fields to Edward Huish of the Middle Temple, and of another in 1667 to Sir Thomas Tipping of Wheatfield. At length Thomas Rolles the younger made over a Bankrupt Estate in 1720 to his brother-in-law Paul Jodrell in satisfaction of his Debts & Mortgages.
Paul Jodrell (1646–1728) of Syon Hill in Isleworth (Middx), who thus became Lord of Lewknor Manor, was for 43-yrs Clerk to the House of Commons. His grandson, also named Paul Jodrell (1713–51), was Solicitor-general to Frederick, Prince of Wales. In the next generation, Richard Paul Jodrell (1745–1831), who purchased the Nethercote Manor in Lewknor, was a Dramatist, Versifier & Classical Scholar, a Fellow of the Royal Society and the last surviving Member of Dr Johnson’s Literary Club. His son, a 2nd Richard Paul Jodrell (1781–1861), inherited through his mother a Baronetcy and the Norfolk Estate of Salle Park. His son, Sir Edward Repps Jodrell, died without issue in 1882 and his daughter Amelia Vertue (d.1890), wife of Charles Higgins, eventually succeeded to the Salle Estate & Nethercote House and took the name Jodrell again. The Estates were sold on her death to Major Timothy White, and so passed to his grandson, Sir Dymoke White, Bt. He surrendered his Life Interest in the Estate to his son, Mr Headley Dymoke White, who in 1954 sold it for £18,500 to All Souls College.
Nethercote Manor, Nothing now remains of this Manor after it burnt to the ground in 1871 in a Fire which killed 2-children. Their graves are in the Churchyard. Like Moor Court, Nethercote was surrounded by a Moat and had a Pigeon-house, Stables, Orchards & a Fishpond.
The Literary Club and simply The Club during its Lifetime, this Society was originally set up by the Artist Joshua Reynolds in 1764, to provide Samuel Johnson with ready conversation & Dining Company. The Group would meet once a week for supper and debate at the Turks Head Tavern in Soho, London, often talking & drinking into the early hours. Consisting of 9 Members in 1764, the Group quickly expanded to a Membership of 12, 16 & then 21, much to Johnson’s distaste, which was particularly aimed at the intake of Whig Politicians. By 1783 the number had risen again to 35, and Johnson and other older Members began Dining ever more infrequently, disagreeing with the new Company. Shortly before his death, in 1783 Johnson established The Essex Head Club, a smaller and more exclusive set of Diners, which would be disbanded by the late 1780s. The original Literary Club, however, would survive Johnson’s death, with a flourishing Membership reaching approximately 50 Members by the late 20thC.
A 2nd Lewknor Manor, Moor Court, can be traced back to the Hide which one Peter, Ancestor of the De Wheatfield Family, held of Robert d’Oilly in 1086 in addition to the 2-Hides he held in Wheatfield. Robert’s brother and heir Nigel gave Abingdon Abbey, sometime before his death in 1115, the Land of one Algar in Abbefeld. It seems that the De Wheatfield Hide was Conveyed either by this Grant, or at about the same time, for in 1279 the Abbey was Overlord. During the 12th & 13thCs the Estate must have descended in the Wheatfield Family, although there is no record of its doing so. By 1130 a Robert de Wheatfield had succeeded and he, in turn, was followed by Geoffrey (fl. 1154, 1166), Robert (d.by 1193), Henry (d. c.1226), Elias (fl. 1243), Henry (d.by 1264) and Elias, who was Mesne Tenant of the whole Abingdon hide in 1279. He held a ½-Hide in Demesne and paid a Rent of 18–4d. to the Abbey’s Kitchener. The other ½-Hide was sub-infeudated to Sir Geoffrey de Lewknor. No more is heard of the Wheatfield Tenancy in Lewknor.
Moor Court survives as a Farmhouse, H-shaped in Plan, standing within a Medieval Moat. Two-Storeyed with a tiled Roof, it was rebuilt in the 18thC of Chequer Brick with Flint Dressings. At one end of the house are the remains of a Tudor Chimney-stack, and some Timber-framing. 19thC Casements have replaced earlier windows.
Moor Court -Farmhouse, Weston Road, Lewknor. Late 17thC, probably with earlier Origins. Random Bond Brick; Flemish bond brick with flared headers to front of left wing and rear; side wings partly refaced in early 19thC Brick. Gabled old Tile Roof; left end Brick Stack with Stone Quoins and rebuilt octagonal Flue; Brick right end & Internal Stacks. H-plan. 2-Storeys; 5-window Range. 1:3:1 fenestration of Central Hall & flanking Wings. Flat Brick Arch over mid 19thC 4-panelled (2 glazed) Door with mid-19thC Cast-iron Porch, left of Centre; segmental Arch over Plank Door with Overlight to right of Centre. Flat Brick Arches over 20thC casements; blocked segmental-arched windows. Raised Storey Band. Rear left Gable has exposed Queen-Post Truss. 20thC rear Outshut.
Interior: cased Beams; full set of chamfered & stopped Beams to rear left. Quarter-turn Stairs to Rear right. Right Wing has ribbed Door and 3-Bay Queen-post Roof with Clasped Purlins. 19thC Plaster Hides much likely to be of interest. Moor Court lies within an early Medieval Moated Enclosure.
The Lewknors had been Established in the Parish since the 12thC and it seems likely that a Clerk, Ansger de Lewknor, who was said to have held the Vill of Abbot Ingulf (1130–58) and to have obtained a Grant in Fee of Ackhampstead, was the Ancestor of the Family. It is, in fact, likely that the Family were hereditary Rectors of the Church. Its ½-Hide holding held of the De Wheatfields was burdened with various Dues (i.e. 1-lb of cumin and 24s to Lewknor Church) by which the Lewknors‘ Tenure can be traced back at least as far as Master Nicholas de Lewknor (fl. 1173–93), at one time Vice-Archdeacon of Oxford. He paid 1-lb of cumin to the Abbey Almoner and in 1198 a Thomas son of Simon, who can be identified as a Lewknor, Quit-claimed 1-Hide in Lewknor to a Robert son of William. A Roger de Lewknor held the Rectory in 1219–41 and he may be the grandfather of a Robert son of William, who was son of a Roger de Lewknor and was Granted Master Nicholas’s (fl. 1173–93) Messuages in Lewknor in about 1260. In 1279 Sir Geoffrey de Lewknor’s Estate included Master Nicholas’s Lands (i.e. the ½-Hide held of Elias de Wheatfield which was burdened with the payment of 1-lb of cumin & 24s to the Church), and 3 Virgates held directly of the Abbey. The Demesne Tenant was a Geoffrey son of William, perhaps the brother of Robert de Lewknor (fl 1260). By 1300 Sir Geoffrey’s son Ralph (fl.1300) was holding an Estate called ‘Moor‘, which must have comprised the whole Wheatfield Holding. Later evidence makes it likely that this Estate lay in the Uplands in or near Abbefeld and that the Moated Farm, later called Moor Court, which lies in the Plain at the junction of Weston Woodway with the Lower Icknield Way, was the Curia or Manorial Hall. In the 16thC, Moorcourt Manor‘s Lands were the Moorlands near Lane End (Great Marlow, Bucks). John de Lewknor (fl. 1316, 1325) succeeded Ralph and in 1346 he or a son John held the Lewknors’ Property elsewhere. In 1360 he conveyed his Harrowden (Northants) Manor to the Symeons and it was perhaps in this fashion that Sir Robert Symeon (who held Nethercote and probably Exchequers Manor, Stokenchurch, by right of his wife before 1386) came also to be possessed of Moor Court. In a Deed of 1374, Sir Robert Symeon styles himself Lord of the Moor at Lewknor and stipulates for the payment of a Rent-charge at Moor Court (curia de la More). His wife Isabel survived him and on her death in 1386 she was returned as holding Property in ‘Le More‘ in part of the Honour of Wallingford and in part of another Lord. In the following year their son & heir, Robert Symeon settled on Trustees his Lands in Lewknor, Shirburn, Stokenchurch, Aston Rowant & other places. The date of his death is not known and in 1428 the unnamed heir of a John Symeon held the Symeons‘ & Morleys‘ Land in Exchequers Manor in Stokenchurch. Presumably, Moorcourt had followed the same descent.
In the mid-15thC, there was a Lawsuit between Robert Symeon’s collateral heirs over his Properties in which Moor Court Manor was specifically mentioned. The outcome is not known, but sometime after, in the 16thC, Moor Court Manor was included in the Estates of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, which fell to the Crown on his death. In 1545 Moor Court was sold to Christopher Edmonds & Sir Richard Long. The Sale included the Manor & Messuage called Moor Court & a Barn ‘Calcottes‘ and Lands called Moorlands, i.e. near Lane End in Great Marlow (Bucks). As with other Manors Edmonds seems to have bought the Property for his step-father Sir John Williams. On his death in 1559 Sir John devised ‘Lewknor Manor‘, once held by the Duke of Suffolk, to his wife Margery with remainder to his daughter & coheir Margaret, wife of Henry Norreys. Williams’s Widow married William Drury and in 1561 she & her husband were holding the Manor. After her death it descended in the Barony of Norreys of Rycote to Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Francis, Earl of Berkshire, and wife of Edward Wray, Groom of the Bedchamber to James I. Wray and his wife sold Moor Court and other Premises in 1629 to a Reading Clothier, William Kenrick (d.1636), for £2,100. Moor Court again changed hands in 1698, when Sir William Kenrick of Whitly, Bt., a grandson to the Clothier, sold the Manor and a Farm called the Lower Farm (i.e. Moorcourt Farm) below Lewknor Hills for £1,900 to Richard Winlow. The Property so conveyed contained 164-acres of Arable in the Common Fields, in addition to an Arable Croft and 6 Meadow & Pasture Closes.
Winlow had bought another Farm a year previously from George Tipping for £1,100. Tipping’s or Lewknor Farm consisted of 231-Arable Acres in the Common Fields and a few Closes of Pasture & Woodland and had been bought in 1664 & 1667 by the Vendor’s father, Sir Thomas Tipping of Wheatfield, from Thomas Rolles, Lord of the Manor. Winlow was already Owner of a Yeoman’s Holding of 36-acres of Arable which he had purchased in 1682, and these 3 Purchases were now United by him in a single Estate. Besides his Freehold, he had a Lease of Lewknor Rectory Glebe from All Souls College. This brought him into conflict with the Vicar, John Bushell, who complained, in a letter to the Warden of the College, of ‘his pride, self-conceit & haughtiness‘, as well as of ‘the virulence of his tongue‘, and who took equal dislike to ‘his wife, subject to vapours, and his daughters’ good qualities‘. Winlow died in 1709. Of his 4-daughters, Margery married the Rev Francis Bernard of Brightwell (Berks), and the Moorcourt Estate eventually Descended to their son, a 2nd Francis Bernard, who Sold it in 1742 & 1744 to the Warden & Fellows of All Souls. The College bought it with money left to them by Christopher Codrington, and it is still held as a Trust Estate for the Codrington Library.
A 3rd Manor in Lewknor, known in the 16thC as Nethercote Manor, derives from an Estate of 2-Hides held by Norman Baron Miles Crispin in 1086. Domesday Book records that he had 2-Holdings, each containing 2-Hides and each termed alia cote. One of them is Copcourt in Aston Rowant Parish, the other, identifiable by its Mill, is Nethercote in Lewknor, alia cote being a latinisation of ‘Otherecote‘ or ‘Nothercot‘, the forms taken by this place-name about 1200. The Fee, with many other of Miles Crispin’s Estates, became absorbed in the Honour of Wallingford. Hugh de Mara may have held it as a ¼-Fee in 1166 & in 1196 Miles de Morley was the Holder. He paid 25s relief for ¼-Fee of the Honour and styled himself Miles of Nethercote in a Grant of a ½-Virgate which he made about that time to Holy Trinity Priory at Wallingford. Besides owning Nethercote, the Morleys held Land from the Family of De Scaccario, for in 1219 a 2nd Miles of Nethercote, perhaps the son of the 1st Miles, was a Minor and his ¼-Fee was in the custody of Henry de Scaccario. By 1230 Miles de Morley was in possession of the Fee and lived until some time after 1255. The Geoffrey de Morley who was holding in Chief of the Earl of Cornwall at the Inquest of 1279 is likely to have been a son of this Miles. Nethercote was still reckoned as 2-Hides (8-Virgates) and held as a ¼-Fee. It was presumably this Geoffrey who occurs as a Free Tenant of Petronilla, Widow of Simon de Scaccario, in 1292 and who in 1324 entailed Nethercote and Property in Aston Rowant & Lewknor upon Margaret de Morley with ultimate reversion to Thomas de Morley. Thomas, who had become Lord of Abbefeld or Chequers Manor by 1346, was still alive in 1352, but another Member of the Morley Family, named Richard, later had a Joint Estate in the same Properties with his wife Isabel. She survived Richard and carried the Estate to her 2nd Husband, Sir Robert Symeon of Moorcourt, who was thus Lord of Moorcourt, Nethercote, and probably of Exchequers Manor in Stokenchurch. When she died in 1386 Nethercote reverted to her son Robert Morley, who died in 1410 and whose Tomb is in Stokenchurch Church. His Widow Juliana married 2ndly Peter Fettiplace. In 1418 a certain Edmund Brudenell, owner of Wormsley, presumably a Trustee, released to Peter Fettiplace and Juliana & Peter’s heirs all claim to Robert Morley’s Lands in Stokenchurch, Aston Rowant & Lewknor. Ten years later, John Fettiplace was returned as holding the Nethercote ¼-Fee which had once belonged to Thomas Morley. Nethercote does not seem to have followed the descent of other Fettiplace Manors to the Untons and its 15th & early-16thC Descent has not been traced. The Manor, for so it is described in Deeds ranging from the 16th to the 18thC, came later to be divided into 2 Moieties which were reunited when William Whitton acquired 1-Moiety in 1544 from Gerard Harby and the other in 1553 from Thomas Colte. William Whitton’s son & heir, John Whitton of Nethercote, entered his pedigree and proved his Arms in the Herald’s visitation of 1574. A Brass Tablet in Lewknor Church records the death of the next Owner, Robert Whitton, in 1612. The Trustees appointed under his Will later sold the Manor & Farm of Nethercote to William Deane of Warborough for £2,200.
William Deane died in 1620, leaving a son & daughter. The son, also named William, made his Will in 1645 ‘on taking a Voyage beyond the Seas, and not knowing whether I shall ever return again‘, and thereby devised the Manor & Farm of Nethercote, with Lands in Oddington & Aldermaston (Berks), to his sister Dorothy & her husband Richard (subsequently Sir Richard) Harison of Hurst (Berks). On the death of their eldest son & heir, George Harison of Hurst, the Nethercote Estate was vested in Trustees appointed under a Private Act of Parliament passed in 1699, to allow its sale for the payment of George Harison’s Debts & Legacies. Heritage Lenten, the new Owner of Nethercote, paid £3,511 for his Purchase in 1701. He was of Russian origin, having been born in Moscow, but had been naturalised as an Englishman and had become a London Merchant, living at Walthamstow. He now made Nethercote his home and, dying in 1715, was buried in Lewknor South Aisle. His son Heritage died in 1729 and his grandson John in 1734. His great-grandson, Heritage (III) Lenten, sold his House at Nethercote in 1747 for £700 to another London Merchant, William Gomm of Clerkenwell, and the remainder of the Estate in 1758 to the same purchaser for £3,873. Gomm in his turn disposed of the Estate, subject to his own Life Interest, in 1777 for £8,400 to Richard Paul Jodrell, and died 3 years later. The Lewknor & Nethercote Manors were thereby united in the Jodrell Family.
Nothing now remains of Nethercote House, in which the Owners of Nethercote lived throughout the 18thC, but it is known that, like the neighbouring Farm of Moor Court, it was surrounded by a Moat. It, too, had its Courtyard, a Pigeon-house, Outhouses, Stables, Gardens, Orchards & Fishpond. The House seems to have been rebuilt by Heritage Lenten about 1740-50. In 1780 it consisted of a Hall, Drawing-room, Breakfast-parlour, as well as Bedchambers & Offices. Richard Paul Jodrell from this time made it his Country House, laying out the Grounds around the House, and pulling down the Village School-house because it was ‘an impediment to the beauty & prospect of his Mansion-House‘. When he died in 1831, the place was advertised as standing in the centre of a walled-in Lawn of 50-acres. Lewknor ceased from that time to have a Resident Squire; Nethercote House was let to a Farmer, and in 1871 a disastrous Fire burnt it to the ground killing 2 Children. Its Foundations may be seen in a dry Summer.
Land in Ackhampstead, a Hamlet of Lewknor now in Great Marlow (Bucks), was known in the 15thC as Ackhampstead Manor. It was held from the mid-13thC at least by a Family taking its name from Leigh (Besselsleigh, Berks). The De Leighs held Fees in Besselsleigh and in Kingston (Little Chesterton, Warks.) under the Abbot of Abingdon. Ackhampstead seems to have followed the same Descent until the 15thC. William de Leigh (fl. c.1220–43) held Ackhampstead and about 1251 his son William gave up his Rights in the Estates to his brother Thomas, who held them in 1279. Thomas’s heir was John de Leigh (d.c.1348) and Ackhampstead is found in the possession of Katherine de Leigh (d.1406), wife of Sir Thomas Bessels (d. c.1378), and her son Sir Peter Bessels. Ackhampstead Manor was 1st recorded in 1412 when Sir Peter Bessels put it in Trust. The Manor was at that time Leased for life to Thomas Chaucer, Lord of Ewelme Manor, and Sir Peter could dispose only of the reversion. There was much dispute over Sir Peter’s Lands on his death in 1425, for he directed that they should all be sold for Alms. No further record has been found of Ackhampstead Manor but it was presumably sold.
It is possible that another Lewknor Manor, which made its appearance at the end of the 15thC, was, in fact, the Bessels Ackhampstead Estate. It is recorded in 1492 when a Grant was made to Edmund de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk, of Lewknor and other Manors belonging to his brother John, Earl of Lincoln, who had been Slain as a Rebel in 1487. The De la Poles were descendants of Alice, daughter of Thomas Chaucer, who had held Ackhampstead in 1412. On the other hand, Lewknor Manor was claimed later either as part of the Lands which had belonged to Anne Mortimer, grandmother of Edward IV, or which had been purchased by Edward IV. In 1492 when their Lewknor Manor was restored to the Suffolks’ it was put in Trust as Security for Payments to be made out of their Estates. Edmund de la Pole forfeited the Manor in 1501 & Sir Robert Harcourt was Granted the Office of Steward of this and his other Estates. Nonetheless, it was recorded on Edmund de la Pole’s Inquisition when he died in 1510. In that year Lady Anne Howard, daughter of Edward IV, successfully petitioned for its return as part of her Family’s Estate. In 1515, however, her husband Thomas Howard gave Lewknor & Nuneham Courtenay to Charles Brandon, who had been created Duke of Suffolk. In 1534 Lewknor and other Properties were bought back by the Crown, but in 1545 the Lordship & Manor of Lewknor were Granted with Moorcourt Manor to Sir Richard Long & Christopher Edmonds. That some of the Lands so conveyed lay in the Chilterns appears from the fact that among them was a Cottage, situated beside Moor Chapel, a name that is known to have been given to Ackhampstead Chapel, but it is not clear whether it is to be regarded as part of Lewknor Manor rather than of Moorcourt. Edmonds must have given over his interest in this Estate as in Moorcourt to Sir John Williams and it was probably included in the Lewknor Manor, ‘formerly of Charles Brandon‘, which Williams bequeathed to his wife & the Norreys Family.
The Area known as Abbefeld lay on the Hills between Lewknor, Stokenchurch, & Aston Rowant and included parts of Estates in all 3 Parishes. The Lewknor portion of Abbefeld was largely held by Abingdon Abbey and had been assigned to the Kitchener. His Estate was in existence by 1184 when 60s from dues and 10s Tithes were paid to him from Abbefeld. He held the Fee of Drew d’Aundeley, who had been the Chief Tenant of the D’Oillys in this part of Oxon. The Kitchener’s Estate, therefore, must have included part of Wormsley which Drew had given the Abbey at the beginning of the 12thC, a gift which Nigel d’Oilly had confirmed before 1115. Nigel himself gave Abingdon Land held by a certain Algar in Abbefeld. It is not clear whether this is to be identified with the Hide held in Lewknor by the Wheatfields under the D’Oillys in 1086 or with the later Holding of the De Scaccario Family in the Lewknor part of Abbefeld, but the fact that this part of Abbefeld was considered as Drew d’Aundeley’s Fee suggests that Nigel d’Oilly may have Granted both these Holdings about the same time. The Kitchener’s Estate in 1279 showed that these Estates must have been included, for each paid ⅓ of the Dues to the Kitchener. John, son of Adam de Lewknor, Lord of Wormsley, paid 20s for a ½-Hide in Lewknor Parish, Laurence de Scaccario paid 20s for a ½-Hide in Abbefeld, Elias de Scaccario paid 18s-4d for a ½-Hide in Lewknor, while John de Fonte made it up to 20s by paying 1s-8d for 6 acres. The Kitchener continued to receive dues from Lewknor throughout the Middle Ages. His Tithes were specifically mentioned in the Grant of the Abingdon Lands to Sir Christopher Edmonds, but the other Dues have not been traced. The various Holdings can be traced to a certain extent by their sub-Tenants. John, son of Adam‘s ½-Hide must have followed the Descent of his Wormsley Estate, passing to Robert de Lewknor by 1300. It remained with the Lewknors until the end of the 14thC though the exact Descent is not known. In 1404 Edmund Bredenhall held Lands in Lewknor formerly of Robert Lewknor. He was Lord of Wormsley in 1428. The Scropes who owned Wormsley from the 16thC had Appurtenances in Lewknor, but the Descent of this particular Holding cannot be traced further.
The De Scaccario Holding in the Lewknor part of Abbefeld was only part of a much larger Estate in Abbefeld which included in 1284 a ½-Fee held of the Honour of Wallingford. It was described as Little Abbefeld and later as Exchequers Manor or Chequers in Stokenchurch (Bucks) – an Estate held of the Lord of Aston Rowant, which included 2/3rds of the Chief Messuage said to be in Great Abbefeld, and the Estate held of the Abbot of Abingdon, also in Great Abbefeld, which included ⅓ of the Chief Messuage. The Lewknor portion was also described as Old Abbefeld and was variously described as 1 Carucate or 127 acres. It was held by the De Scaccario Family from the early 13thC if not before. A Laurence de Scaccario (d.1217) was Tenant of the Aston part of Abbefeld in 1206, and a Roger de Scaccario who died in 1271 was in possession of the ½-Hide held of the Abbot of Abingdon. His son & heir Laurence died in 1284 and when Laurence’s son Simon died in 1291 the direct male line came to an end. Simon’s heirs were his sisters, Maud, Laura, wife of William Payforer & Beatrice, wife of John Peverel. By 1346, however, Abbefeld was held by Thomas Morley, the Lord of Nethercote Manor in Lewknor. It must have followed the Descent of the Morley Lands, probably passing for a time to the Symeons of Moorcourt. In 1428 Abbefeld & Sorel, which is unidentified, were said to be held by the heirs of a John Symeon & Thomas Morley. The descent of the ½-Hide cannot be distinguished from that of other Land in Abbefeld and it was probably regarded as part of Exchequers Manor in Stokenchurch which had descended from the Wallingford ½-Fee in Abbefeld.
The Mesne Tenancy of the ½-Hide held by the De Wheatfields in 1279 may have had the same descent as the other half of their Domesday Hide. It cannot be traced in their possession after 1279 and was perhaps merged in another Lewknor Manor.
Reproduced from VCH Oxfordshire XVIII (2016), available online at www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/oxon/vol18
The Oxfordshire Grim’s Ditch is a series of discrete Linear Earthworks of Iron Age date which together make up at least one Segmented circuit. The Earthworks which define this area were only built in Open Country leaving apparent Gaps in the areas previously Forested. Where visible, the Grim’s Ditch always includes a Rampart of dumped Earth & Stone, a Berm & Outer Ditch and, in places, a narrow Palisade Trench beyond. It is believed that, together, these components served to enclose & divide an area of Land and provide Control over Access through the Open Country which existed between heavily Forested areas. The Ditch is Iron Age in date and provides evidence of how the Landscape was Managed and divided in the Period immediately prior to the Roman Conquest. The high concentration of Sites representing Iron Age Ritual & Agricultural Activity which occur within the area defined by the Ditch confirms the view that it served to define an area which was of particular significance to its Builders.
The Chilterns Ditch starts at Bradenham, further North in the Chilterns than the End of the South Oxfordshire Ditch. There are separate Sections extending some 30-km North to Ivinghoe, partly along the Chiltern Escarpment. Its size varies considerably. Its purpose is uncertain, and different Sections may have had different Functions. The Route of the Grim’s Ditch apparently passed through the Town of Berkhamsted, and remnants of the Earthwork can be seen on Berkhamsted Common and on the Village Green at Potten End.